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Early childhood teachers of color in New York City: Heightened stress, lower quality of life, declining health, and compromised sleep amidst COVID-19

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Souto-Manning, M., & Melvin, S. A.
Publication Date: 
21 Jan 2022

Excerpts from abstract

Stress and well-being are known to influence the quality of teacher–student interactions, teachers’ delivery of emotional and instructional support, and the social competence and executive function skills of young learners—dynamics that impact the education and development of young children. Even prior to COVID-19, 46% of teachers reported notably high levels of daily stress. Given the additional stressors associated with the pandemic, this multi-methods study explores the well-being of Latinx, Black, and multiracial early childhood teachers in New York City, where communities of Color have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19. Via an amalgamation of descriptive and interpretive approaches—a survey, time-use diaries, and qualitative interviews—this study documents early childhood teachers’ experiences making sense of and negotiating the impacts of intersecting stressors on their stress, health, quality of life, and sleep amidst COVID-19. Survey findings show reduced well-being across measures among the early childhood teachers in the sample, while qualitative findings illustrate the many layers of challenges that teachers of Color faced during the pandemic. Time-use diaries show extremely high demands and long work hours associated with concerning lack of self-care and attention to mental health. Interviews elucidate how stress is layered across environmental, occupational, and racial factors. This study points to the need to attend to the well-being of Black, Latinx, and multiracial early childhood teachers in urban settings during and after COVID-19 recovery.